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State of the College - CU Nursing

CU Nursing dean: Let’s boldly transform health — together

minute read

Written by Debra Melani on October 15, 2019

In a robust call for change, College of Nursing Dean Elias Provencio-Vasquez rallied his team on Oct. 14 in his first State of the College address with the University of Colorado.

Provencio-Vasquez assured audience members that they could tackle looming challenges ahead — but only if they did it together.

More than 100 people, including Chancellor Don Elliman and Provost Roderick Nairn, joined in the dean’s inaugural address in Education 2 North on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Live-streamed on Facebook, the event also attracted 550-plus views.

A new direction: Boldly Transform Health — Together
Announcing a new “rallying cry,” Provencio-Vasquez called on his colleagues to “Boldly Transform Health — Together.” The guiding direction included animation of the Anschutz Medical Campus with a lighthouse beacon atop Fitzsimons and an inspirational video during the event. T-shirts, coffee mugs and 8-foot, gold-and-black banners adorned with the dean's call greeted speech-goers after the event.

Using Netflix’s disruption of the video-rental industry and Uber’s influence on the taxicab business as examples, the dean called for a renewed focus on innovation and transformation.

“We must be our own disruptors,” said Provencio-Vasquez, who took the reins of CU Nursing  approximately 13 months ago.

Dean asks college to reach for the stars, top 20 rankings

Provencio-Vasquez, the nation’s first Hispanic male College of Nursing dean who led his previous college through change, noted how CU Nursing’s top talent, rich history, leading programs and “Breakthrough” medical campus attracted him to the post.

“With all of this greatness, I have to ask myself — why? Why is this amazing college not a top-20 College of Nursing in this nation?” the dean asked, as an interactive slide presentation emphasized his words.

“The answer, I believe, lies in a new direction,” Provencio-Vasquez said.


Faculty, Staff and Leadership attend Dean Provencio-Vasquez
State of the College.

“My call to action today involves reminding everyone of the shining stars that we have throughout our college and clinics and that this college is poised to go from great to stellar,” the dean said, drawing on his introduction music, Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars.”

Threats to counter: Evolving knowledge, experience shortage

Challenges ahead demand transformation, from a technology-hastened, rapidly growing knowledge base to an emerging exodus of veteran nurses, the dean said.

“Without transformation, the rapid evolution of knowledge will leave us in the past,” he said, noting how knowledge doubled every century pre-1900. “Today, our knowledge base doubles on average every 13 months.”

In addition to a longtime nursing shortage, the profession now faces an experience shortage, Provencio-Vasquez said. “The workforce is becoming increasingly novice as experienced nurses retire.”

Couple the skill reduction with today’s increasingly complex medical care, and the situation becomes even more critical. “We must be part of the solution to help close that gap,” he said, citing a need for increased residency programs with clinical partners and specialty training programs for students.

“Colleges and Schools of Nursing can no longer exist in silos,” he said. “It is critical to establish partnerships, in order to support successful transition-to-practice programs.

Successes, past and present, can enhance transformation

Noting CU Nursing’s already transformative history, from its creation of the healthcare-changing nurse practitioner (now 270,000-strong nationwide) to its inclusion of 10 Living Legends, Provencio-Vasquez said the college must build on the past by innovating for the future.

“We must meet the needs of healthcare head-on,” he said. “We can do this by continuing to lead the way with our nurse practitioner programs, embracing such technology as distance-based simulation, tele-health and virtual reality in education.”

Dean’s challenge: ‘Lift up every task’

Provencio-Vasquez told the audience he knows CU Nursing can rise to any challenge.

“You, as a group, are truly committed. You have a passion for nursing education, practice and research that permeates everything you do. You have incredible ideas for the future, recognizing that our opportunity lies in innovation.”
The dean ended with his call to action. “Today, I challenge you to lift up every task you do and inspire every student, patient and colleague you encounter with the highest level of commitment to effect change together,” he said.
Noting that the World Health Organization designated 2020 the year of the nurse and midwife, Provencio-Vasquez said: “It’s our year. Let’s embark on 2020 and make it the most successful academic year ever!”
Teri Hernandez, RN, PhD, presents the role within Research & Scholarship
Leadership top goals
After the dean highlighted some successes from each enterprise, including a positive budget and a total of nearly $4 million in grants for fiscal year 2019, the dean handed the microphone over to CU Nursing leaders, who shared their top goals. Here are just a few from each:

Shane Hoon, Admissions and Student Affairs
  • Implement a Mental Health First Aid certification requirement for all incoming BSN students, making CU Nursing one of the first in the country to do so
  • Create direct alumni/student networking and mentoring programs
  • Incorporate virtual reality into learning programs

Leigh Small, Academic Affairs

  • Prioritize compassionate, patient-centered nursing amid technological explosion
  • Infuse state-of-the-art simulation across the curriculum
  • Recruit culturally and geographically diverse student body
Teri Hernandez, Research and Scholarship
  • Create thoughtful alliances, particularly with hospital partners
  • Strengthen a culture of research in which “everyone feels the excitement”
  • Acquire an institutional training grant (T32) to bolster research program
Rosario Medina, Clinical and Community Affairs
  • Create strong bridges between clinical and academic enterprises
  • Enhance presence in surrounding community
  • Highlight unique clinical programs that make CU Nursing stand out
Kathryn Callahan, Advancement
  • Educate alumni and community members on CU Nursing’s successes
  • Connect with benefactors, present and future
  • Educate faculty on the impact of benefactors
Anthony Airhart, Budget and Finance
  • Align budget model and processes to meet new organizational structure
  • Review all operational policies and procedures to assure efficient operations
  • Reinstitute a recurring organizational meeting for broad feedback

The State of the College can be viewed via Office365 Video link or on the CU College of Nursing Facebook page.

Topics: Campus Life, Faculty